The Ethics Campaign will begin on Thursday 17th May 2007.
This follow up to last year's popular yet rambling Metaphysics Campaign will continue my peculiar philosophical investigations in public, with the help and hindrance of whomsoever wishes to participate. Why do I call it 'a campaign'? This is in reference to my characterisation of this blog as a non-fiction role-playing game. I will not be "campaigning for ethics", per se, simply exploring the subject area in a manner dictated in part by my own will, and in part by the dialogue that will take place with the other players in the comments of the relevant posts.
I have not studied or written about moral philosophy before, and thus this is very much a new area for me. I only started reading about it late last year. As a field, I locate it somewhere between metaphysics and political philosophy. It is not my intent to delve too deeply into the political at this time, although some forays this side of the border will be inevitable. Similarly, we will have to nip back into metaphysics here and there, but my hope is to stay focussed on the issue of ethics - and personal ethics in particular.
We will be sailing close to philosophy of religion (since I see ethics as part of the domain of religion), and I will inevitably take some side excursions into philosophy of science and language as well. As ever, I find these regions tend to diffuse into one another... I don't have a specific course charted, but I have something of a map, even if I lack a definite destination.
I'm going to be largely assuming that everyone reading will fall into one of the following rather broad camps:
- Someone with a priori ethics, for example, someone who identifies a religion with an explicit ethical stance such as Christianity, Hinduism or Buddhism.
- Someone who derives their ethics from reason, for example, a Humanist, or an atheist who does not identify a religion.
- Someone who is not clear about their own ethical stance, but believes they have one, or at least would like to have one.
Importantly, I don't want to get too bogged down addressing issues peculiar to ethical nihilists who do not believe in ethics. Just as a I largely ignored solipsists in the Metaphysics Campaign, I intend to largely ignore nihilists in the Ethics Campaign. You are free to choose these philosophical dead ends if such is your wish, but in doing so you are inherently choosing to live alone, and there is no reason we should be interested in what you have to say. Why not try a different belief system for a while? It could be fun!
For reference, I fall mostly into the third camp above. Although some a priori belief systems have greatly influenced my ethics, especially the teachings of Jesus (which I grew up with and still greatly value) and the teachings of the Buddha (such as I interpret them), I am largely uncertain of my own ethical stance except in the broadest of strokes, and am looking forward to clarifying it.
I hope you will enjoy the posts to come on the subject of Ethics, and I greatly look forward to the discussions we will have together on matters both abstruse and provocative.
Are you intending to be a player in this campaign? Feel free to share some thoughts on your own ethical background in the comments!